5 Tips That Will Make You A Better Architect

5 Tips That Will Make You A Better Architect

5 Tips That Will Make You A Better Architect

I thought I would put together a few ideas I have been considering over the past week. This partly came out of some preparation I have been doing for an architecture podcast interview.

So here are my 5 Tips That Will Make You A Better Architect. I have also included some links to relevant books for each of the topics. 

To help you with your architecture career, I've created a mega-pack of free resources that includes architecture resumes, cover letters, and an extensive collection of application documents. Click for a free download:

1. Use fear as a tool

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Unfortunately humans are conditioned to be safe, but safe often means hiding and not trying new things or taking calculated risks. Succeeding within architecture requires risk taking.

If I ever find myself getting nervous about trying something new in my career or business I know that is exactly the direction I should be heading.

Especially when you really analyze the pros and cons rarely do the downsides outweigh the potential benefits. Try an easy exercise. Imagine a goal that you are afraid of, say joining a new company. Then visualize all of the terrible things that could happen. You could get fired shortly after joining, you could not get along with your new coworkers, etc.

Well yes those are possible, but what about he potential upsides? Working on projects you find rewarding, having a great supportive environment, better pay, etc. 

Learn to follow the fear. Use fear as a tool, as a signal.

2. Put a value on your time

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Don’t value your time at 0.

This is something I am really trying to work on lately. We all only have so many hours in a day. Especially in my situation I am working full time and spending the weekends and evenings on The Architect’s Guide so I have to be rigorous with how I use my time. If I spend three hours looking for the best deal on something to save $15 I have essentially valued my time at $5 an hour.

I am much better off just making the purchase or outsourcing the labor to someone else and then spending that saved time on something productive. The more I work on this the more I realize how it is a major part of almost every decision we make throughout the day, whether at work, in your business or personal life.

Taking a direct flight, getting takeout instead of cooking, the time really begins to add up. I have found the greatest results by focusing on what I do best and let others do the things they do best.

3. Be indispensable

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Now more than ever in this world of  automation the people that create, lead and challenge the status quo are the people who become indispensable.

For further reading I recommend the book Linchpin by Seth Godin. All of Seth’s books are great, he is primarily known for his marketing genius but he is also a career and business expert.

Linchpin outlines the importance of becoming a key member in your office as any architect wanting to achieve career success should follow.

4. Focus on what matters

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Always be clear on the aspects of your architecture job that get the best return on investment for both your time and money. I see a lot of architects waste resources early on in their job application process process by focusing on the easy tasks. Focus first on the difficult task like networking or researching a particular firm and creating a targeted job application. 

I suggest for all career related decisions you should use the Pareto principle, which says, for most events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian economist who noted the 80/20 connection while at the University of Lausanne in 1896.

The same is true in your career, meaning that 80% of your successes come from 20% of the work. Whether that is creating an inspiring design or networking, focus on the areas of your architecture career that have the best return on investment.

The 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss - a great resource on productivity and had a major impact on my life.

5. Figure out what works best for you

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I walk a lot.

Part of that comes from living in cities and not having a car for over a decade, but I find it is when I get my best ideas. I also make sure I write everything down, whether it is upcoming tasks, article ideas or business plan.  Even if I think it is a dumb idea at the time, I will pull out my phone and jot it down. I will often review this list and see if any of the ideas hold up or just archive them for a later date.

One of the best things I have found is when you combine two seemingly unrelated ideas. Author James Altucher calls this “idea sex”. Like AirBnB which combined a traditional room for rent model with an app and online community. And others like Uber did the same.

I feel we are so distracted in our daily lives that it is often impossible to come up with new ideas or think of new goals for you career, job or personal life. Try going for a walk and see what happens. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Hopefully these tips are helpful for your short and long term architecture career goals.

Want to find your dream architecture job?
Check out The Architect's Guide Resources.

To help you with your architecture job search, I've created a mega-pack of free resources that includes architecture resumes, cover letters, and an extensive collection of application documents. Click for a free download:

See also my posts on:

Want a Great Architecture Job? Don't Send a Resume

Stand Out in an Architecture Job Interview with The STAR Portfolio

Brandon Hubbard, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C

Have a suggestion for a future blog post? Please let me know in the comments below.